Having made huge strides into public consciousness during recent times, Grime, as a genre, has had a number of major successes and achievements, from top 20 charting singles to being shown on BBC1 on Later With Jools Holland. So who better to ask than legendary Grime DJ Logan Sama on his thoughts about what we felt were some of the biggest talking points in the recent history of the genre…
Ghetts and the success of RWAC
Logan: That was a tremendous achievement, especially all the success that he saw from it and all of the coverage. It was great to see him win some awards for it as well so more power to him. I think Ghetts was an artist who always found it difficult to find his home; the industry didn’t really accommodate his talents and his desires. He didn’t wanna stay a hungry, angry, shouting artist because you cant be that for ten plus years, but he also didn’t wanna become someone who wasn’t making music as a voice for where he’s come from and I think its taken until now for the music industry to open up and for there to be space for him to do a record like RWAC and I think that’s great.
It’s a shame that it didn’t happen earlier for him as he’s someone who deserves a huge amount of success as he’s hugely talented, but it’s great that he’s seeing that now. It’s great that he was able to do both an artistic piece like Rebel, which is really talking a lot about his life, but then also accommodate the fans that have been with him on his journey with something like The Momentum 2 mixtape, which is very hard and deals with very controversial subject matter and is sonically aggressive.
The Rise of Stormzy
Logan: Stormzy is very interesting because he’s one of that generation that’s grown up around grime his whole music listening life and he’s one of the group where he’s both a rapper and an MC at the same time. If you listen to Dreamer’s Disease, at least two thirds of that is what I would consider modern hip hop and he’s got tracks like ‘The Only One’ which are definitely of that modern hip hop/Drake influenced type stuff. You couldn’t really relate it to grime sonically, but he’s one of those artists that has come through with a love of MC culture and for that age group and generation, grime is as much part of that culture to them growing up as Biggie and Tupac were for my age growing up.
Grime has always been relevant in his years, so whereas he probably started out making tracks through hip hop, he’s always maintained that respect of the grime culture from the ‘Wicked Skengman’ freestyles, which are throwbacks to the foundations of grime, to ‘Not That Deep’ which became a single and to be honest, it shows that when done properly, a grime single can be just as successful as anything else, it just requires a real mobilised fan base and a good proper campaign. The important thing to remember about artists like Stormzy and Ghetts as well is the strength of the team around them. Stormzy has definitely got good people around him and he’s able to do whatever he wants musically and because of the strength of his fan base and the profile that he’s putting out, people will still buy into it in spite of it being grime. A lot of the time, people put out grime and it puts people off and that has lead to artists going and making different types of music, but I think guys like Ghetts and Stormzy and of course Skepta, Wiley and JME have always been great examples of it. When you do it right, it can blow up for you bigger than anything else.
Heavytrackerz – pioneering the current sound of grime?
Logan: Tank, Ras, Teddy and all those guys have always had that sound. To be honest, it’s a sound that doesn’t really lend itself to sets and spraying out but even going back to two or three years ago, they’ve always made beats that work really well with vocals. I have to big up D Power who is one of the first guys that I heard utilise that and get really good songs out of those beats. It just show you the versatility of the grime sound. It’s not a stereotypical grime sound and embraces different elements, but it’s their sound and it doesn’t really sound like anything else that’s out there at the moment which is great. That was always the most important thing with grime, coming through with a new sound as a producer that doesn’t sound like what other people are providing. It was never about “this is what’s in right now and I need to just jump on that bandwagon”.
When you look at when grime was coming up, we had a wealth of producers from Wiley with the Eski sound and Danny Weed and Dizzee Rascal making crazy sounding stuff and then Johnny Cash with the Sublow sound, Musical Mob and Youngstar with the strong 808’s with ‘Pulse’, ‘Formula’ and ‘Bongo’, Eastwood, Davinche, Jammer, Skepta, Terror Danjah; they all had different sounds and you could identify them by the sounds that they were using. I think they way the Trackerz have come out, you know a Trackerz tune when you hear it and they’re not just rinsing the same sound out, they’ve got versatility in their sound. But when you hear ‘Originators’ by P Money, when you hear ‘Not That Deep’ by Stormzy, when you hear ‘German Whip’, you know it’s a Trackerz tune and I think that’s the best thing for them. They’re the sort of things I like taking from other genres. When you listen to hip hop, in the mid to late nineties, you would hear The Neptunes and know it was a Neptunes track, you’d hear a Timbaland tune and know it was Timbaland and I like that in grime as well. I like people coming through with a fresh new sound, running with that sound and working with the relevant artists and making great songs; it’s an exciting time.
Boy Better Know at Culture Clash – opening Grime up to an even wider audience
Logan: To give him his credit, Skepta was already opening up Boy Better Know to the A$AP crowd before Culture Clash. He already had ‘It Ain’t Safe’ in the can and he’d been out to New York several times before that. But yeah I think what Red Bull do with the Culture Clash is brilliant. It’s not just a soundclash and it allowed four different groups to showcase their culture and that goes from BBK having twenty guys on stage MCing back to back, to A$AP putting on a stage show to Stone Love playing the juggling sound to Rodigan working the mic and Chase & Status showcasing their huge wealth of musical knowledge and influence, alongside a legend like Shy FX.
It was great to see all those things represented and to see 20,000+ kids coming out with so many Boy Better Know shirts on. Yeah it’s great that it was broadcast worldwide but the great thing for me is that it was probably the first show that a lot of the people in attendance had been to because it was a 14+ show and it’s important to realise that because there was a lot of kids there. It was probably the first time they ever got to see BBK live and that’s incredible. It’s great to get recognition and get noticed internationally but for me the important thing is to cement that next generation of grime fans in the UK and to keep people interested in the culture here because it’s our culture and that’s how you get a new generation of grime artists like your Izzie Gibbs, your Snowy’s, your Cadell’s, your Novelist’s and your Elf Kid’s and so many new names that are coming through now because they have something to aspire to.
BDL – spreading the sound of Grime throughout the UK
Logan: Any artist out there that is making the effort to reach new audiences is brilliant and I think Big Narstie is a fucking treasure. Big Narstie is a jewel within the grime scene. He has been around since the start, spitting on Deja Vu on Nasty Crew sets back in the day in 2001-2002 and to see him now get the success that he deserved along time ago is a wonderful thing. It’s been bittersweet cos you realise that he should have probably got it a long time ago but I’m so happy for him.
There are very few people in the music industry in general that are as good hearted as Narstie and he’s fucking hilarious as well. Again he has a good team around him, the RoadSound people, the Dice Recordings people, Lordie at The Grime Report, it allows the artist to be who they are and that’s the vital thing. People need to have the freedom to be who they are and do what they wanna do.
The lack of emerging new ‘characters’ within the scene
Logan: I think the fact that those old skool characters are still there and still so dominant doesn’t really allow for new characters to come through. The fact that there isn’t the progression so much for artists to elevate means that there’s not as much room at the bottom for people starting out to really grind out a niche for themselves. For kids coming through now who are 17, 18, 19 years old, to compete in terms of personality with someone that’s been MCing for twelve years is an impossible task. You’re not gonna stand on stage and have as much presence as Skepta, Big Narstie, Ghetts, P Money and all these people. It’s important to remember as well that people like Krept & Konan, Giggs and Fekky started out spitting grime back in the day and I remember all of them as well.
It’s no fluke that as the platforms were taken away, the live events, the pirate radio stations, the radio shows, as they were removed and people were forced onto YouTube, that format lends itself more to the rap/cypher/freestyle than it does to the grime set. Whereas people were listening to an hour/two hour long tapes of grime sets back in the day, nowadays people wanna consume things quickly from YouTube. It’s difficult to get that hype unless you’re editing down and doing highlights which requires more resources than a lot of these kids have. So for me, as we learn to use these platforms more, we’ll be able to adapt them for grime and that’s the cool thing. We assimilate things and use them to our own benefits.